As you contemplate your plans for the coming year, do you have a blueprint in place to set achievable and compelling goals? Are you utilising cutting-edge flow science that can help guide your journey toward goal completion and increase your success rate? When it comes to accomplishing what matters most, having an intentional approach is key.
At the University of Bath in early 2000s, Sarah Milne and her research team set out to achieve a simple yet important mission: increase exercise participation.
Two-hundred-forty-eight adults were randomly assigned to one of three groups:
Group one was instructed to read a few paragraphs from a random novel before working out whilst Group two were asked to read a pamphlet on the heart benefits of exercise.
Like Group two, Group three were instructed to read the pamphlet on the heart benefits of exercise. but in addition to this, Group three were told to use the following sentence to formulate an exact workout plan:
“During the next week, I will partake in at least twenty minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME] OF DAY in [PLACE].”
- 38% of participants in the first group exercised at least once per week
- 35% of participants in the second group exercised at least once per week
- 91% of participants in the third group exercised at least once a week
Wow! That’s 3X the follow-through.
Writing a single sentence nearly tripled the likelihood of participants following through on the goals they set.
Although more research is required on the efficacy of implementation intentions (this is the scientific name for this process) – the implications of research to date are profound.
By engaging in this 30-60 second exercise, we can increase our capacity to follow through on our goals –– and the daily action steps required to achieve them.
- If you want to stay focused on an important project – before you start your deep work block take a few minutes to jot down your implementation intentions so that you can be laser-focused and organised while working.
- If you want to embed a meditation practice in your life, try replicating the approach used in Milne’s research and complete the sentence: “During the next week, I will partake in at least [x minutes of mindfulness meditation] daily at [TIME] OF DAY in [PLACE].” (Remember the key is consistency here so if you’re new to meditation don’t start with 20 or 30 minutes, you’re likely to get frustrated! Start small and build. Research suggests that starting with just 10 minutes a day is sufficient for you to begin reaping the biological benefits.)
- If you’re looking to spend more quality time with your loved ones, make sure to incorporate your implementation intentions into the planning of your evenings/weekends. For example, replace the goal “Spend more time with my children” with “Play [board games] with my children every [Sunday]”.
Clearly defined goals are crucial and a fundamental flow trigger so practice setting implementation intentions every time you set a goal this year…this includes the goals you set for others if you’re lucky enough to be a leader of a team.